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V&A Director, Tristram Hunt comes to NewVIc for Arts Debate

On Monday 8 May, NewVIc hosted the launch of a new platform for student voting called ‘VotesForColleges’ which promotes debate and democracy on a wide range of issues affecting young people.

Key note speaker was Tristram Hunt, a former MP for Stoke-on-Trent Central, and now the Director of the Victoria and Albert Museum. Tristram was invited to put his case on the subject of the debate which was: “Is enough being done to make arts and culture accessible to everyone?”

During his presentation, Tristram made the case that the V&A were reaching out to ever wider audiences, and especially those who do not habitually access the arts through a range of strategies (partnering with schools, outreach activities and the possibility of building a new museum in East London.

There was a response by Matt Beer of VotesForColleges, who highlighted the fact that the highest paid jobs in the country (including many in the arts fields) are disproportionately represented by those from privileged backgrounds. Also, that even though there are many free museums, there is a cost in getting to them, especially for those living in rural areas. He challenged audience members to name their nearest museum, which many were not able to do – the nearest being the Museum of London Docklands at Canary Wharf.

There was an audience of about 45 people, made up of performing arts, media and debating students and some staff members to support them. Lots of students took part in the debate, and some talked about their experience of their parents’ opposition to their choice of an arts course at college. Many students agreed that more should be done to reassure parents that jobs in creative professions can be as safe and well-paid as those in more traditional areas.

Tristram’s talk was very engaging making sure there was some audience participation. He talked about the way the arts can inspire people who work in a myriad of professions. He also touched on the fact that creative industries are the biggest growth area of industry in the UK, and is also the least likely to be affected by the rise of robots!